Winter squashes are grown during the summer but can be stored during the winter. Thelma Sanders is a vining squash so allow plenty of space for them to grow. Direct sow seeds outdoors (1/2-1” deep) around June 1st (space 4’ apart). Days to germination: 4-10. As with all cucurbits, squash plants do not like their roots disturbed during transplanting so if you are starting seeds indoors, use biodegradable pots. Start seeds indoors May 1st – ideal temperature for germination is 85°- 95° (use heating mat). Squash seedlings are sensitive to damping off fungus so keep germinating seeds on the drier side and use a fan (set to low) to provide air circulation. Once 2 leaves appear, grow plants at 72°. Do not let plants become potbound. Transplant (pot and all) outdoors aroundJune 1st, spaced 4’ apart. Squash like soil with a lot of organic matter so add compost and/or decomposed manure to soil prior to planting. Protect seedlings from cucumber beetles and squash bugs by covering seeds/seedlings with row cover fabric at planting and leave it on until plants are flowering. Protect squash plants from deer and groundhogs.
For winter squash, harvest before frost when skin is hard enough that you can’t push a fingernail into it. For summer squash, harvest when squash are 4” long and light green. (over-harvesting summer squash will reduce the yield of winter squash). Store winter squash at 50-60° for long-term storage.
Thelma Sanders belongs to the species Cucurbita pepo and will cross (by insect) with all other Cucurbita pepo squashes & pumpkins (including zucchini, scallop, acorn, and delicata). Isolation distance is ½ mile (or you can save seed and see what you get!). Minimum population size: 6-25 plants but you can save seed from fewer plants if the seeds are for your own use. Always select seeds from the best plants. Scoop out seeds from mature fruit, rinse and dry seeds.